It is very heartening to learn that one of the rare ‘Country –first’ Political Professionals in the current Parliament has suggested to hold both Parliamentary and LG Elections on the same day. May be as an economist he wanted to make the budgetary provision of Rs.10 Bln. more meaningful, productive and cost-effective in the face of the dire human and Financial/economic catastrophe that the country is facing as a ‘Bankrupt Nation’. Further, it may to some extent, justify the estimated Rs.72Bln. earmarked to be spent by contesting political parties for Election campaigning while enabling saving of Millions of man hours lost when conducting a laborious country –wide, complex and unrefined Election process that we are saddled with, at present. Nevertheless, as Sovereign voters we exhort that it is more fundamental to make critical system changes and revamp our failed Electoral system, as holding elections using failed electoral systems under the pretext of protecting a basic human right is tantamount to hypocrisy and deception particularly in the wake of the recent ‘Aragalaya’ which targeted a regime change coupled with a drastic system change.
Whither long overdue ‘System changes’?
More than a decade ago, when our economy was not in the doldrums as now, the writer and several other sovereign voters with ‘Country at heart’ suggested to the authorities to hold Parliamentary and Provincial Council (PC )Elections on a single day for the aforesaid reasons. Moreover, to make our corrupt and unproductive 04 tiered Political administration structure consisting of Exec.Presidency, Parliament, Provincial Councils(PCs)and Local Govt.bodies (LGBs) more objective and productive, the writer has been continuously knocking at the door since 1997 to depoliticise the bottom level LG tier and allow the citizens to take it over, in line with ‘Grama Raajya’ concept. It is no secret that Citizens and rate payers are now fed up with the present Local Govt. Administration where political bias, corruption, arrogance and self-aggrandizement are the hall marks, Thus, they look forward for a ‘System change’ in alignment of which, the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) has developed a very appropriate model with‘Jana-Sabahs’(JS) at Grama Niladhari Division(GND)level. The writer was made to understand that the process to give them official recognition is nearing completion.Also,writer’s proposal for a simple methodology to replace Political Party candidates with JS representatives was also published in the press recently.
As regards, System changes to the General and PC Election process, the writer’s package of proposals were sent to the Cabinet appointed eminent lawyers’ Committee(2020), Parliament appointed select Committee on Election Reforms (2021), Election Commission and Voter dedicated Civil Organisations (2021)all of which merely acknowledged receipt without any further ado.
The abolition of Executive Presidency needing a referendum too has been held in the back burner since 1994.
Are sovereign voters not entitled to propose system changes?
The sad irony today is, when the ‘Sovereign voters’ ask for a ‘system change’ or rationalization of the existing Political machinery to cut down corruption, wastage, costs and improve productivity and accountability, the current set of Parliamentarians who ‘piggy back’ the sovereign voters, simply ignore their voice without giving a tuppence worth for ‘System changes’ upstaged by the intelligent youth through the peaceful ‘Aragalaya’. Instead, they have chosen to expand their political Industry by splitting like hydras, aided and abetted especially by the powerful Electronic media lending prime time news coverage for the power hungry ‘225’! Their aggressive tone and dubious promises on the TV clearly indicate that they are determined to grab power by hook or by crook and continue their confrontational bouts inside and outside the Parliament as usual. Naturally, the current generation of politicians are allergic to ‘System changes’ for fear of losing their status –quo, while many are waiting in the wings to qualify for Duty Free, luxury Vehicles, Pension, personal staff and numerous other perks and allowances at the expense of the Tax-Payer! On the other hand some political parties may be wishfully thinking to come to power and effect some ‘System changes’ so that they too can qualify to utter “ Api thamai hondatama kaley” ! (It was we who did the best !) As a result of such manoeuvres and tantrums, ‘Ditch the 225’slogan is fast becoming a home truth. The next sad irony is, some Civil and voter dedicated organizations and political pundits are also shunning critical ‘System changes’ to the existing complex, unproductive, erratic and high-cost Electoral process under the pretext of safeguarding democratic rights of the voters!
Can a Bankrupt nation allow old systems to perpetuate?
Firstly, for ‘Country first’ political professionals this surely is not the time to catch ‘Election fever’ and push the burning problems of the people who have already taken to streets against sweeping increases in Taxes, to the back burner. The country is reeling, unable to bear the colossal debt burden both local and foreign. Therefore, desperate tax-payers/Sovereign voters genuinely interested in the development of the Country, yearn for critical system changes where,
i) Contestants from independent ‘Jana sabhas’ will replace Political candidates at grass root level LG elections thereby converting LG bodies to nurseries moulding future ‘Political Professionals’ and not breeding -grounds teeming with ‘Corrupt politicians’.
ii) Members to Provincial Councils (PCs) and National Parliament will be elected purely on District and country-wide ‘% Representation’ basis respectively, enabling all voters in North, South, East and West to vote for only the party of their choice as Sri Lankans carrying a ballot paper of ‘equal value ‘untainted by Race, Caste or Religion.
iii) A ‘Sustainable Sri Lankan Cabinet’ also will be formed based on National % vote so that smaller parties too could join the Cabinet. This step will make our country, a model ‘Five-Star’ democracy boasting as a unified Country with‘Sri Lankans’ as its citizens!
iv) The violent and corrupt ‘Preference voting’ and ‘Cross over’ mechanisms will be abolished to pave the way for election of wise ‘Political Professionals’ from ‘District wise Merit lists’ of Parties selected through a robust, standardized procedure subject to minimum eligibility criteria and a structured interview system laid down by the National Election Commission.(Writer has already spelt out a methodology)
v) Executive Presidency will be abolished with effect from a specified date, through a referendum, if possible on the same day of the Elections, and replaced with a Parliament and PC member appointed Governor General as the usual Commander in chief with ceremonial powers plus limited powers to ensure execution of Govt.’s National and decentralized budgets and functioning of PCs through Provincial Governors appointed by him.
We have missed several golden opportunities to put our country back on track after overcoming disasters such as Tsunami, 30 year War, Covid-19 and now the ‘Aragalaya’. Therefore, we as citizens with country at heart appeal to the Hon. President and the entire Parliament to place the Country first, band together, exercise their political will in unison and legalize the above ‘System changes’ and thereafter hold LG and General elections and the Referendum too on the same day as suggested above and replace this harmful system of ‘Corrupt and Confrontational’ politics with ‘Clean and Consensual politics’.
Thereupon, all Sri Lankans and the world at large will surely pay a great tribute to all our Parliamentarians, Hon. President and all other Political representatives irrespective of Party politics, Colour, Creed and Caste.
It will be engraved in golden letters in our History books!
Disclaimer: Hold General, LG polls on the same day
After legalising critical system changes - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view